It's never too soon to start planning ahead if you hope to buy your first home within the next year.
That's the key message that real estate and mortgage brokers say prospective first-time homebuyers should take away from any preliminary thoughts or discussions about buying.
Variables like loan qualifying guidelines, interest rates and house prices aren't within your control and might change before you're ready to move forward. But it's still smart to start educating yourself about factors you can control, such as your down payment, credit score and housing needs and wants, as early as possible, says Julie Miller, branch manager at Broadview Mortgage in Tustin, Calif.
"It's important to have a plan in place to ensure you're on the right track for qualifying for a mortgage," Miller says.